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Administration Freezes Mental Health And Addiction Programs Database

by Countable | 1.11.18

What’s the story?

In 1997 Congress authorized the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, and online database of effective, vetted programs for treating mental health issues and substance abuse disorders. Mental health and substance abuse providers access the centralized database to aid in finding reputable and effective options for clients.

The administration froze the database in September, so that no new programs could be added to it. Now they have confirmed to the Washington Post that the contract to provide the database has been terminated.

According to officials, "A new entity will take over the program’s duties. A director for that new group was announced Monday, but no other staff is in place." The new program will supposedly employ “an even more scientifically rigorous approach” to selecting programs for inclusion, though no details have been released about what that approach will entail or how the new program will work.

Yet according to a provision of the 1997 Drug-Free Communities Act, any prevention programs authorized by that law must be certified under the National Registry, so the replacement of the registry presents legislative challenges.

Overseeing the replacement program is the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, or Policy Lab. The lab was authorized under a sweeping health-care law passed in 2016, called the 21st Century Cures Act. Policy Lab officials notified the registry contractor Dec. 28 that it was terminating the contract "for the convenience of the government."

Lawmakers and service providers that regularly access the registry were surprised and concerned about the contract termination and the lack of information about what is coming next.

What do you think?

Should the administration reinstate the existing registry until a replacement is up and running? Should the replacement be scrutinized by the public and Congress and be subject to a public comment period?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Sahmsa.gov)

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